The History of the Toyota Tacoma Pickup Truck Through the Generations

Toyota trucks are known to last, but the Tacoma has also been around for a while. Since hitting the market in 1995, the Toyota truck has had three long generations. What kind of engines has this pickup truck offer, and is the Tacoma still produced in the USA? Here is a brief history of the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and its previous generations.

Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks through the generations

The Toyota Tacoma pickup truck seen here
A 2012 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 | Jim Mahoney/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The first generation Toyota Tacoma ran from its debut in 1995 all the way up to 2004. Kelley Blue Book says that this first generation came with three engine choices, varying from 142 to 190 horsepower. When 1998 rolled around, the Tacoma took some upgrades from the Supra sports car. Toyota also introduced the TRD Off-Road package during the first generation, helping make the truck suited for even more adventures.

The second generation Tacoma was introduced in 2005 with new engine choices and a new look. The 142 hp 2.4-liter engine was removed from the lineup, while Toyota added a 4.0-liter V6 with 236 hp. Toyota offered the Tacoma base engine options between 159 and 164 hp. Buyers could opt for the TRD supercharger to get up to 300 hp. While the first-gen measured between 173.2 inches to 190 inches long, the second-gen was 190.4 inches long for all years. This generation ran until 2015.

By the time the Toyota Tacoma hit the market in its third form, it was in 2016. Toyota offered this version with a 161 hp 2.7L I4 engine or the 278 hp V6. Engines shrunk in size but still provided more power. A TRD lift kit was available as a dealer option, making the Tacoma suitable for ever more buyers. Thanks to that, it has been the best-selling small pickup truck for 17 years.

Toyota Tacoma pickup truck engines and build locations

RELATED: Only 3 Compact Pickup Trucks Are Recommended by Consumer Reports

Over the years, the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck has used five different engines. In the U.S., the Tacoma uses gasoline to power its trucks. While electric trucks are gaining popularity, Toyota has hinted at an electric Tacoma in some of its prototype vehicles.

EngineHorsepowerTorque (lb-ft)
2.4L I4142160
2.7L I4150177
3.4L V6190220
4.0L V6236266
3.5L V6278265

Depending on the year, Toyota has three primary manufacturing locations. The first generation Tacoma was built in Fremont, California, from 1995 through 2010. Production for the second generation moved to San Antonio, Texas, from 2010 until 2015. After that, the Tacoma moved to Guanajuato, Mexico, where it has been made since 2016.

These days, finding a used Toyota Tacoma can be tricky because many owners want to keep the truck forever. That is a testament to the reliability and durability of this Toyota truck.

What are the best years for the Tacoma?

While 2021 might seem new, there are plenty of used Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks out there right now. A 2021 model will likely have some warranty remaining, both from the factory and the dealership. Consumer Reports’ near-perfect score for reliability and owner satisfaction is a good indication of a solid Toyota pickup truck.

When the experts at Consumer Reports rated the 2020 Toyota Tacoma, it was mostly positive. Owners seemed satisfied with the Tacoma down the line, and the reliability history continued positively. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded this Toyota truck the Top Safety Pick.

The 2015 Toyota Tacoma was the last year before a significant redesign. Even though it looked a little dated, it is still one of the best-used Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks in recent history. It had above-average scores for reliability, and owners reported few problems over the years. No matter what generation you settle on, the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck will stick with you for a long time.

RELATED: 5 Pickup Trucks with the Worst Resale Value for 2022